Recently, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in Kapoor v. Kuzmanovski, 2018 ONSC 4770 (CanLII) determined the issue of whether individuals who drive and pay automobile insurance premiums can be excluded as potential jurors in cases arising out of motor vehicle accidents due to an alleged “inherent conflict of interest”. In a motion to exclude such individuals as potential jurors in motor vehicle accident cases, the plaintiff argued that the financial obligation of such individuals to pay automobile insurance premiums amounted to a personal interest adverse to the interests of plaintiffs in cases arising out of motor vehicle accidents.
On the motion, the Court excluded a crucial document the plaintiff sought to rely on as evidence of the alleged “inherent conflict of interest.” The survey in question, which was conducted of 300 residents of Brampton, Ontario, showed that 73% of those surveyed would limit damages awarded in such cases in order to lower their insurance premiums. Just 27% of those surveyed indicated that they would award damages without regard to their own insurance premiums.
As the plaintiff sought to introduce the survey as expert evidence, the Court went through the exercise of determining its admissibility by applying the test set out by the Supreme Court of Canada in White Burgess Langille Inman v. Abbott & Haliburton Co., 2015 SCC 23. The Court ultimately found that the survey did not pass the test and was therefore inadmissible and not considered as part of the evidentiary record on the motion.
Further, the Court heeded the submissions of various intervenors on the motion, including the Attorney General of Ontario and the Advocates’ Society. It was submitted by the Attorney General of Ontario, and accepted by the Court, that civil jurors can only be challenged for want of eligibility under Ontario’s Juries Act, which provides for two avenues of challenge for cause in civil cases: i) for want of eligibility, and ii) for ratepayers and officers/servants of municipal corporations where the municipal corporation is a party to the action. The Court further agreed with the Advocates’ Society that a challenge for cause based on bias or lack of partiality of prospective jurors ought not to be read into the Juries Act and is a matter best left to the legislature.
The Court ultimately dismissed the plaintiff’s motion, holding that there was no evidence to demonstrate the presence of widespread bias among Brampton citizens as prospective jurors, against the interests of the plaintiff in this case, or generally against similarly situated plaintiffs.
While it is not clear whether the decision in Kapoor v. Kuzmanovski will be appealed, for now it appears as though the Ontario driving and insurance premium paying public will continue to have the pleasure of serving on juries in motor vehicle accident cases.